Attending college is not a cheap endeavor, with the cost of tuition being the main expense, but you must also factor in room, board, travel and miscellaneous expenses. When deciding how to attend college without going broke you must not get short-sighted in your budget. Even though you may have spending cash during college, minimize debt so that you are not broke after you graduate. You can pay for college without going broke by minimizing expenses and maximizing outside funding.
Establish a baseline for how much money you will receive in grants and scholarships. Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine the amount of money need-based money you qualify for and apply for outside merit-based scholarships, as well. This will help you determine how much grant and scholarship money you will have to apply toward college before you need to use your own resources or take out student loans.
Apply for admission to a broad range of colleges and apply early enough to submit for each school's institutional scholarships. While you might have your heart set on your state's flagship university or a big-name private institution, you need to leave all options open, since scholarship offers will vary. You may like the idea of going to a certain college due to its brand-name status, but consider what that institution will cost you in terms of yearly tuition and student loan debt. Less competitive colleges are more likely to give you greater scholarship funding since you are more of an asset to them.
Eliminate extraneous expenses and be frugal with luxuries. In the grand scheme of things, college is a short experience, but the debt that you accumulate by living large in college can stay with you for the rest of your life. Go to a college in or near your hometown and consider living at home, if possible, to reduce your expenses. While a car may be a nice thing to have, it should also be viewed as a luxury, since the cost of ownership also entails insurance, maintenance and fuel costs. Buy your books early and shop via online retailers, who often offer more competitive prices than your campus bookstore.
Work your way through college the old-fashioned way. While the ever-escalating cost of college has made it virtually impossible to pay for college as you go, you can offset expenses that you do have by bringing in your own revenue stream. Use weekends and summers to work, and remember that college is not just a time to spend money. If you have a particular skill honed from your personal hobbies or field of study try to monetize that.
Loans should not be viewed as a given; view student loans only as a last-ditch effort to make ends meet while attending college.